Tag Archives: Google

Best GAFE Resources for Beginners (or Anyone!)

by Erin Dye

Chances are that you are one of the 30 million registered Google Apps for Education (GAFE) users. You might be a super user, or you might never even have logged into your .edu account.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the information out there about Google. I’d like to point out just a few of my favorite of the thousands of GAFE resources.

1. Google 101

This video explains in just 101 seconds what GAFE is and how you can use it immediately in your classroom. You can’t beat that for a quick and thorough introduction.

2. Google Learning Center

This is where you would go if you wanted to pay the $60 to become a Google Certified Educator. And that’s great—I did it, and I learned a lot. Even if you’re not interested in getting certified, however, all of the training resources are free for anyone. If you’re just starting out, I recommend that you read through the Level 1 lessons on all of the basic Tools. You can go on to Level 2 and even take electives in things like Google Play, Chromebooks, and YouTube, if you want.

3. Guide to Going Google

This mini Google site is easy to miss among the resources Google lists on its pages. However, it’s got links, resources, and step-by-step guides for everyone from new network admins to new Google teachers and students. It’s even got a guide on how to get GAFE buy-in from everyone in your school or district, including parents and the community.

I’ll stop there, because there are potentially hours of independent PD time hiding within each of those resources. These are great intros to using Google, and even if you’re not a beginner, you’ll probably find something you didn’t know in at least one of these resources. If you’re already a super Googler, what were your favorite resources when you started out? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development and a Google Certified Educator. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

4 Great Features of the Research Tool in Google Drive

by Erin Dye

Google Drive research tool

Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve recently been working on becoming a Google Certified Educator. Much of the information about using Drive I already knew because I’ve been using it for years now. However, I was really impressed with the Research Tool, which is available via the “Tools” menu of any of the Drive components.

The Research Tool is basically a way to search all of Google within your Doc, Drawing, Spreadsheet, or Presentation and automatically import the citation into your document. You can even directly import an image, map, or chunk of text. Imagine how much more efficient your work would have been in high school or college with this tool at hand. No more painstakingly working out the formatting for each and every citation. No more carefully analyzing book bibliographies to find alternative resources. And as an Art History major, the image search and citation tool would have completely changed my life.

For those of you who are also new to the Research Tool, I’ll point out a few of my favorite features.

Refine your search.  

Within the Research Tool, you can tell Google to show you everything, images only, scholarly articles only, quotations, or dictionary entries. If you’re searching a place name, you can get a snapshot of the area from Google Maps. If you search Scholar, you’ll be provided with a list of print and digital sources, and you are automatically shown how many times that particular citation appears online. What a great way to get more information for library searches!

Preview the source.

Once you find a source that might be useful, you can click to “Preview” the source. You’ll immediately be taken to the source’s link (if you click on the link to a journal service that your school doesn’t subscribe to, like JSTOR, you’ll be taken instead to an abstract of the article).

Instantly insert text or images.

As soon as you find the perfect source or image, you can either drag the object or text into your document or click the “Insert Link” button that appears beneath the search hit. If you insert the link, a hyperlink will appear in the text of the document. If you click “Cite” instead, a footnote number will appear in your document, and the citation will appear in the footnotes.

Customize your citation style.

You can quickly choose a citation style from a drop down list. Currently, MLA, APA, and Chicago are your options. Note that all citations are formatted as footnotes (so parenthetical citations are still on you). While EasyBib has been simplifying citation styles for a while now, having all of Google at your fingertips as you’re working in a file is quite an advance.

How do you use the Research Tool? We’d love to know.

Erin bioErin Dye is Manager of Consulting Services for Green Light Professional Development. She has extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about technology integration and GLPD’s work in local schools.

Going Google in the Classroom

by Helen Beyne

Google Apps for Education

Cloud-based apps are great for the classroom | Image courtesy of SweetCrisis / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Google makes no secret about its mission to revolutionize how people use the Internet. The company’s success is apparent in the use of google as a verb in our daily lexicon, which demonstrates its impact on personal practices as well as its worldwide omnipresence. In June 2012, Gmail had 425 million users, and 5 million businesses and many top universities used Google Apps. Today, Google Apps for Education has 30 million users around the globe.

What is Google Apps for Education?

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is a free and secure suite of digital apps, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Sites. Each unique user is granted 30 GB of storage. All user content is saved automatically in Google’s cloud, and content is editable from any device with a web browser.

Users can also work simultaneously on a shared document without worrying about attachments or tracking changes. Plus, all data is automatically backed up on Google’s servers, so even if students break their tablets or leave them at home, the work still makes it to the classroom.

How is a GAFE account different than a Google Apps personal account?

  • Only those associated with a school can have a GAFE account.
  • GAFE apps can be accessed only through the school’s individualized domain.
  • GAFE has unique sharing options, allowing users to share within their school’s domain, with individual users, and with the public.

Thousands of educational institutions in the United States use GAFE daily, including New York State K–12 schools.

How can Google Apps for Education benefit your classroom?

The Guide to Going Google, K-12 edition, features tools and guidelines to help teachers, administrators, and students start to use GAFE. Google also offers free online training and premade lesson plans that show teachers how to implement this technology in their classrooms.

Given its capabilities for sharing and collaboration, GAFE has already revolutionized the way students and teachers work together. Edudemic listed 50 Little-Known Ways Google Docs Can Help in Education. No longer limited to pencil and paper, students can easily incorporate multimedia into their homework and research projects. Additionally, Google Drive serves as a virtual locker, keeping a student’s syllabi, instructions sheets, notes, feedback, assignments, and grades in one place that is accessible from anywhere.

Teachers are also taking advantage of GAFE’s ability to streamline their work. Google Sheets scripts like Doctopus make it easy for teachers to send assignment templates and feedback to students through an automated process. Adding Chrome extension Goobric makes grading more efficient.  Goobric uses a rubric of the teachers’ own creation and transmits recorded scores back to the Doctopus spreadsheet. Google add-on Flubaroo takes automated grading one step further, allowing teachers to grade an entire class’s multiple-choice assignments in less than a minute. As it grades, Flubaroo also analyzes test data and automatically highlights questions that more than 60% of the class got wrong, identifying areas in which students may need more instruction.


Google Apps for Education has the potential to make your and your students’ lives easier. Are you using GAFE in your classroom? Tell us your favorite tricks in the comments!

Helen bioHelen Beyne is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development. She has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Today’s Virtual Field Trip Itinerary: the Opera, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Moon!

by Erin Dye

Virtual Field Trips

Take your students on a virtual field trip | Image courtesy of digitalart | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During the recent days of budget cuts, not to mention liability waivers and parents who are too busy to chaperone, you may have seen your field trip opportunities dwindle. You probably already know that some websites can help to fill the void. What you might not know is that there are virtual field trip apps and websites that not only present information to students but also get closer than ever to actually transporting them to those museums, theaters, and historic sites. Even more exciting—students can now visit the bottom of the ocean, explore the Moon, and even follow in the footsteps of the characters in the books they’re reading.

So, it’s time to go—everybody get on the bus Internet!

Science Field Trips

Google Earth

Not to be confused with Google Maps (which is also a fantastic resource), this downloadable desktop or tablet app allows your students to explore the Earth, the Moon, and Mars in stunning detail. You can also set and save your own paths and destinations ahead of time.

Google’s Cultural Institute

Want your students to learn more about the Great Barrier Reef without flying them to the coast of Australia and getting them scuba certified? Simply pull up Google’s street view-style underwater exploration of the reef. There are also tours of hundreds of other sites.

American Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History’s website has a detailed 360° self-guided walk through its museum. You can choose your gallery ahead of time or just amble through the corridors learning about fossils, plants, animals, and big, big diamonds.

Creatures of Light

Also created by the Museum of Natural History, for their special exhibition on bioluminescence, this beautiful, free iPad app explores the glowing creatures of the air, land, and sea.

Arts Field Trips 

The Metropolitan Opera

The Met’s iPad app provides interactive programs of their past three seasons, complete with audio and video of performances and summaries of the stories and productions themselves. The 2013–14 season includes classics such as Tosca, Rigoletto, and The Magic Flute.

Google Art Project

While asking students to perform an image search is great, it denies them the experience of a curated grouping of works. There’s almost no substitute for physically walking the halls of the world’s great museums. The exception to this rule? Google Art Project. Through this portal, dozens of the world’s finest museums offer virtual, street view-style explorations of their galleries.

Literature Field Trips

Google Lit Trips

Google Lit Trips allows your students to visit the real places mentioned in the books they read. All you need is the Google Earth app (desktop or iPad). For example, I recently toured 1940s Denmark on the Number the Stars tour, and then I trudged from Oklahoma to California with the Joads. These tours are organized by chapter so that students can really follow along.

The Secret Annex Online

It’s hard to visualize Anne Frank’s hiding place until you push aside the bookcase and walk through the hidden door. With the context provided by this 3-D model, students can truly relate to Anne’s experience in hiding.

We also love the National Parks app (free) and the Florence and Rome Virtual History apps (not free, but well worth the cost).

This list could go on and on. Look for another blog post coming soon that gives some pointers on creating lessons around these activities. Until then—what have you used for virtual field trips?

Bon voyage!

*Update: See a sample lesson plan for The Secret Annex here.

Erin DyeErin Dye is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development with extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.

Is Google Play for Education a Better App Store?

by Erin Dye

In a world where tablets are becoming as ubiquitous in classrooms as pencils and paper, the need for high quality educational apps continues to rise. Developers have sought to meet the demand for such technology by creating and releasing new apps every day. But sometimes it isn’t so easy for teachers and administrators to find the best app to pair with a given lesson. That’s where the new Google Play for Education comes in.

Designed specifically for educators, Google Play for Education is an online marketplace filled with educational apps, books, and videos. But what sets it apart from other app stores?


We’re really impressed with Google Play for Education’s search capabilities. Let’s say you are looking for an app to supplement your lesson on multiplying fractions. You can open the Apple App Store and type “multiplying fractions” into the search bar, but your only results will be the few apps that include those exact words in their titles because the App Store is not searchable by keyword. Google Play for Education makes it easier to customize your search, allowing teachers to browse by subject, keyword, grade, or even Common Core standard. Let’s hope Apple follows suit with improved search filters.

Approved Apps

The quality of apps available on these markets is a huge concern. Google has asked teachers to review thousands of apps, marking approved apps with a yellow badge. These badges have the potential to be a more useful metric than a “most downloaded” list.

Purchase Orders

Another useful feature of Google Play for Education is how it allows teachers to buy content using their school’s designated purchase orders. Streamlining the purchase process encourages educators to use more apps and digital content in their lesson plans because they’ll no longer have to worry about when and if they’ll get their money reimbursed. This is something Apple has been lacking.


However, Google Play for Education is not without its drawbacks. The biggest one we’ve encountered so far is accessibility. As of now, the store is only accessible to teachers and administrators with a school Google account. Students, parents, or other interested parties (such as bloggers and reviewers) cannot even browse the store’s content. A personal Google account won’t cut it. While this requirement nicely highlights the fact that Google Play for Education is designed just for educators, it creates a significant roadblock between customers and content.

For a more in-depth look at what Google Play for Education has to offer, check out this video. Overall, we think this market has the potential to be better for both teachers and developers. What do you think?

Erin DyeErin Dye is a consultant for Green Light Professional Development with extensive experience creating digital materials for interactive whiteboards and iPads. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.